Here’s your Habs fun fact for the day: this season, the Canadiens have never won a game after trailing at an intermission. Never. Granted, it’s often tough to come from behind, most teams don’t do it with regularity. But you’d figure, for a team that’s doing reasonably well overall, over the course of 44 games, it’d happen at least once just by sheer coincidence. Yet it hasn’t. This is a useful thing to remember if you need to add a sense of drama to the middle of an otherwise uneventful game- if they don’t at least tie it by the time these immediate twenty minutes are up, they’re fucked. It’s like the end of every period is the end of the game.
1. This game actually began well, I think. Not necessarily well for the Habs, but in general, the early action was fleet and eager and seemed full of potential- more so than your average hesitant first period. But then Drury slid easily past a atypically inert Komisarek to open the scoring, and the Habs started blowing their power plays, and Huet was giving up ugly rebounds, and by the time it went to the first break the Rangers’ 2-0 lead looked every bit as insurmountable as the Canadiens’ track record would suggest.
2. Apparently, we have the best PP in the League. Given that the Rangers took penalties in this game like the Flyers on a surly night, and yet the Habs managed only 10 shots, even with lengthy 5-on-3s, this suggests to me that the art of the power play has gone into a sad decline. Yes, Lundqvist looked very big and scary in the net, but pucks are surprisingly indifferent to scare tactics if propelled in the right direction with enough velocity- it would have been worth trying, at least. But who knows, maybe the Habs favor the wuwei approach to a man-advantage.
3. Initially, coming back from my long hiatus, I was pretty happy to see that Gorges seems to have gotten a more regular spot on the lineup- I tend to think that if you’re going to have a guy sit half the time or more, better have it be a veteran who’s used to that role (speaking of which, I’d like to send a little shout-out to Kostopolous). But I can’t make up my mind about this kid: fact is, when he’s playing, I notice him a lot. And that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes it is, sometimes he seems to be fairly ingenious about breaking up what look like otherwise excellent opposition scoring chances; other times he can be conspicuously passive, like he’s having a mildly paralytic stroke mid-shift. Probably he should be given the benefit of the doubt, due to his age and the sometimes slow development trajectory for defensemen, but how long should that forgiving spirit last? And is it really optimal to play him with Bouillon?
4. One advantage of an ugly loss is that I did get to see my boy Jaroslav ‘Trade Bait’ Halak again. I hope, in a way, that Gainey finds a new home for him- in spite of his clunky style and meerkat demeanor, I still think the kid’s got potential beyond the system-filler role he seems destined for here. And he did well, as backup goalies go, in that he kept them from losing any worse than they already were.
5. And I’d certainly be remiss to go without mentioning the Kostitsyns, who were not only the Habs only scorers in this game (okay, plus Markov) but also among the few who don’t have much to be embarrassed about in their performance. And anyway, look at Sergei (or as NHL.com likes to call him, ‘Siarhei’- is this a transliteration from Cyrillic issue?) after that goal- how could anyone be angry at that face? This is the problem with a team full of kids: they drive you crazy, but then they look at you with their adorable gap-toothed grins and wide trusting eyes, faces alight with the joy of playing the game, and you just can’t stay mad can you? Well, you can, but you kind of feel like an ass about it.
6. Any game where your team gets scored on by a dude named Nigel is automatically a bad game. Nigel is the definitely somewhere on the list of top five Least Hockeyish Male Names.
7. Also, I know it’s famous, but
Under other circumstances, this might be a panic-inducing loss, but given their recent streak of good play and my general sense of relief and joy at being able to catch the games properly live again, we’ll just call it an aberration and let it go. But ahbabi, you owe us a compensatory performance when NYR comes to our ice in February.